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As the dissemination of research output moves more fully into the digital environment, the process of producing and publishing scholarship is rapidly changing. Tracking various drafts of publications – from submission to acceptance – is easier and more beneficial to authors. Requesting an article frequently requires only a few clicks or keystrokes. Databases and search engines return a large number of results (sometimes an overwhelming number), within which research gold can be mined.
Nevertheless, despite the advantages noted above, scholars face a new set of challenges. Although you might find a citation for an article that would benefit your research, the full text proves elusive. You might want to post your latest article online, but the publisher reserved that right in your signed publication agreement and has requested that you remove your public posting. Unfortunately the norms of copyright management and publication agreements have not kept pace with the revolution of digital publishing and online accessibility, creating a disconnect between discoverability and accessibility.
One thing is undeniable – scholarly publishing will change. Will peer review continue? Yes. Will journals continue? Probably. Will authors have greater control of their copyrights? It depends. As scholars, you hold the keys to the future of scholarly publishing, not the publishers. As scholars, you provide the content, the editorial review, peer review and the audience which enable the publishers to exist. If you demand greater control of your scholarship through better copyright management and more liberal accessibility options, then you will shape the future of publishing to fit your needs, both as a producer and a consumer. Just as you control the production of scholarship, you can control the dissemination of scholarship, but only if you take action.